While Little Rock’s actual West Ninth Street – a River Nile of black-owned city business and culture flowing through an Egypt of downtown honkydom – has been nothing but weeded lots for decades, collecting stories about Ninth Street has been on the upswing in recent years.
Tonight’s screening of “Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street” (7 p.m. on AETN) is the premiere of an hour-long documentary on the storied street by the Arkansas Education Television Network. “Dream Land” isn’t to be confused with the Dreamland, the ballroom in Ninth Street’s Taborian Hall that hosted many R&B greats. But as the strip’s only remaining original structure, Taborian Hall is the locus of both Dream Land and those who would imagine this now-neglected street as the hive of Little Rock’s black community it once was.
Prepare to be uplifted by musical montages and stories of capitalistic pluck against all odds, then shamed by the racist intentions of, and continuing devastation by, urban renewal and the U.S. interstate program.